Six real consequences of GMO labeling – you may be shocked by #5!

Labeling of genetically modified organisms in food has been debated for decades now. Whether the labels should be mandatory, voluntary, or third-party based like Kosher has been widely disputed. For a long time we’ve all discussed what would happen if/when GMO labels hit the stores. Some groups claimed that there was no cost at all to just label food. Other groups predicted serious impacts on the budgets of consumers. Due to the looming Vermont legislation which will take effect on July 1st, we are beginning to see the reactions by food producers and distributors. We don’t have any data yet on how consumers respond, but we can examine what the companies are doing at this point.
Every tidbit so far has been an example of “told you so”. Some companies are embracing their GMO supply chain and doing the charm offensive. Some are swapping out ingredients. Some are raising prices. Some are eating their price differences (which, of course, will hurt small business the most). Some may simply opt-out of selling in the Vermont market.
Things may shift was we get closer to the deadline, or change completely if the court battles resolve. But here’s what we know about the current state of play. Here are six real consequences of GMO labeling:

10000cost_labelGMO
A small producer explains how the Vermont GMO label will cost them $10,000

1. Labeling is “expensive”.

Campbell’s was the first company to go public with their plans, in this piece from the NYT. They will now label all their products across the US, because labeling for 1 state was not workable for them–and would be “incredibly costly”. The Chief Executive of Campbell said about their own program, “Ms. Morrison said that complying with Vermont’s law was expensive….” No, it’s not just some text on the can. It’s reviewing the supply chain, checking all the recipes, evaluating the logistics, exploring sourcing options, etc. Anyone who tells you it’s just a bit of text has no grasp of this, nor of the $1000/day penalty for getting it wrong. Small producers are acutely aware of how much the changes will cost them (in the example here that’s $10,000). Their budgets are far less flexible than those of Big Food, and it will be hard to know if some of them just choose to stop selling into that market.

2. Labeling is confusing.

In the same NYT piece, we find that plain SpaghettiOs must carry a GMO label. But meatball SpaghettiOs do not need to. Since they are regulated by different agencies, meat-containing products are exempt. How this adequately informs consumers has yet to be adequately explained to me. I’m sure someone will try in the comments. We also know that the state of Vermont can’t handle the incoming questions at this time, and according to a Wall Street Journal piece:  “The office of Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, which is responsible for enforcing the state law, has been deluged with questions. Its website now warns that the office won’t reply to email inquiries about GMO labeling and asks companies to stop calling.” That’s informative.

3. Companies will swap out ingredients.

The same WSJ piece above included reports of a small pasta business that had to make changes to their recipes to avoid the labeling hassles and possible penalties. They had been using canola oil–which may be herbicide tolerant GMO, or herbicide tolerant non-GMO. Surely even if they were using the non-GMO version but people saw it on a label, the tractor-chasing legal teams would light up with glee. In any case, they have now switched to olive oil. This raised their costs by 10%, without a similar increase in sales. Other small companies are retiring some products (how’s that for choice?). Maybe Big Food can eat those kinds of costs, but this hurts a small business.

Morgan Bridge, by Steven Bergeron
Morgan Bridge, by Steven Bergeron

And that said, if you actually think Big Food doesn’t pass the costs along in some way, I’d like to sell you this charming Vermont GMO-free covered bridge….

4. Swapping out ingredients raises prices.

We know this from Ben & Jerry, in fact. Interestingly, in early comments on this, B&J said: “Ben & Jerry’s has no plans to raise prices as a result of the transition….” Later we learn, also from the WSJ article: “It took about three years just to remove GMOs from ingredients like cookie dough and caramel, and the new products averaged 11% higher in price.” About that bridge, my prices just went up.

5. Changing recipes alters products – in unpleasant ways.

Besides some products simply disappearing due to the hassle of finding new sources, other products may get modifications to avoid GMOs with surprising results. We’ve watched multiple examples of products losing vitamins as they got their Non-GMO Project status. In the case of not-Heath-Bar-Crunch, customers were dismayed by the new flavor. I have to say, though, the most surpising thing to me was adding new allergen labels as a result of their switch. One company switching away from cottonseed oil has opted for peanut oil: “that switch introduced a new allergen the company had to warn consumers about.” Swell. If you have an allergy as I do, you’ll have to be aware of ingredient changes to products you’ve bought all along. Let’s hope that parents of kids with allergies don’t miss these changes because their kids could get hurt.

6. Some companies will opt out of shipping to Vermont.

An article by the Associated Press covered another aspect of the challenges: shipping. One company was facing serious logistical issues, which are also costly.

Herr Foods Inc., a midsize snack food company based in Philadelphia, is considering pulling its products from Vermont if the law takes effect, said Daryl Thomas, senior vice president for sales and marketing. “Just the logistics, the expense are horrendous,” he said.

And this doesn’t include the costs of getting it wrong, with the very steep penalty and ensuing the legal nightmares. Yeah, labelers want choices. The choice to remove other people’s favorites. In addition, small shop owners are losing sleep over the downstream consequences of opting-out:

“As a retailer, there’s all sorts of ways that this could backfire on us as a state, and a small independent guy like myself if I’ve got nothing on my shelves or I’ve got limited (supply) and my competitors have no problem with the staying power, we’re done,” said Ray Bouffard, owner of Georgia Market in Georgia, Vermont.

get_outAgain, we see that small business stands to be harmed by the whole scenario. And Big Food and Big Chain probably continue to swim in the shark-infested waters. Is that what labelers wanted? Really? A win for the Bigs? Well done.
These are the known issues. Other unknowns at this point include the impacts on sales, legal penalties, enforcement costs, and other financial effects. Another possibility is harassment of companies. “Some of the feedback that these companies are getting is boycotts from groups against the use of GMOs…”. We’ll have to assess this on the real roll-out, but I’ve known this was the goal all along. If you think that labels are going to stop the shouting, see me about that bridge again.
 
Update 6/27/2016: Coca-Cola will not ship some products to Vermont after July 1.  http://www.wcax.com/story/32315929/coke-to-pull-products-from-stores-to-comply-with-gmo-law
Update 6/30/2016: Products disappearing, confusion ensues. I don’t hate to say “I told you so.”.
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/money/2016/06/30/vt-retailers-say-gmo-label-law-unclear/86176924/
Update 7/1/2016: Labeling day! Price Chopper loses 3,000 products over GMO law http://www.wcax.com/story/32354485/price-chopper-loses-3000-products-over-gmo-law
And here’s Bernie Sanders using a QR code.


Update 7/2/2016. Consequences continue to roll in. Baby formula is becoming unavailable.


Update 7/10/16: Reduced access to Kosher foods being reported:  http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/2016/07/10/kosher-foods-pulled-off-shelves-because-labeling-law/86703774/  “Afek also confirmed the expense associated with complying with the Vermont law is considerable.”

Written by Mary Mangan

Mary Mangan has a PhD in cell, molecular, and developmental biology from the University of Rochester. She co-founded OpenHelix, a company that provides awareness and training on open source genomics software tools. She has published numerous articles on biology, biotechnology, biometrics, and genomics.

249 comments

  1. A recipe change to a product I used to eat happened to me once, with one of those snack mixes with pretzels and cheezits and such. I had no problems with it for years. I moved away from there and didn’t have access to it for a couple of years. I came back and bought it–never occurred to me that they might change the recipe. They had changed out one of the products to use peanut flour. I got very, very sick. But I don’t go into anaphylaxis, luckily.

    1. A choice that wouldn’t normally be made if people like you would accept the facts. G.E. crops currently approved are as safe as any.

        1. But that’s point 2–they aren’t being labeled in a ridiculous number of cases. And when they are labeled, they aren’t identified. You get the worst of all possible worlds.
          I was laughing the other day about a “produced with genetic engineering” label on a bag of cheese popcorn. What does that tell you? It’s not the popcorn–because there is not GMO popcorn. But the unidentified item won’t inform you at all. It should be the cheese, which we all know uses GMO enzymes. But that’s exempt. It’s probably GMO oil–which contains neither DNA or protein that’s GMO and is identical to non-GMO oil. Or even funnier, it’s sunflower oil perhaps–which is herbicide tolerant and uses herbicides. But that’s not identified to you.
          It’s not information you can use.
          And you can’t pretend that the onerous and small-biz killing penalty isn’t designed to drive people away from the ingredients. There are no penalties like that on any other labeling. And small biz folks can’t get answers from the state on their questions about the amounts of GMO content. So they have no choice but to cover their butts and swap out.

          1. Yes, most countries that do label have a threshold, so its never 100% identifiable. People know and accept that.
            Yes, I agree, more information would be provided if the specific gmo ingredients were identified in the ingredient listing.
            Why not just cover their butt and identify?

          2. Because it’s a terribly written law. This is exactly the point. Activists aren’t interested in you having information. They are interested in scaring you to buy their products.

          3. Labels dont scare me personally. Yes, maybe they can adjust the law to label the specific ingredients.

          4. Sure it is. Laws get changed and adapted all the time. And no labels dont scare me. They are not warning labels.

          5. No, that’s not how this works. If it stands (and it still seems most likely it won’t), any new attempt to touch this will set off all the same BS claims, and we’ll just get on another merry-go-round about what is and is not GMO. This will now include new techniques that you’ll want to pre-hate like editing.
            And if in this fantasy world of yours this happened, then once again everyone has to go through their supply chain, they’d be confused, they’d have to segregate starting right at the farm level for each trait, adding even more costs–and this would fail again.

          6. Laws get changed and adapted all the time. Australia seems to be doing just fine with both a board of experts who determine whats gmo, and in labeling the specific ingredients. They wont have to segregate unless they want to get certified “non gmo” since the thresholds are so small.

          7. That’s totally wrong. If you want each trait labeled, they’ll have to track it right from the farm.

          8. The threshold is so small that any gmo crops included would be “gmo”. Also there are not that many types of commercially available gmos so its would be mostly “gmo corn” or “gmo soy”. You dont have to keep them separate unless you want non gmo.

          9. Right, so thats why we would have a board of experts, like Australia has to determine what is a “gmo” or not.

          10. And I know they are struggling with the editing issue. And every other new tech you’ll want to oppose right out of the box.

          11. But that’s not going to salve the claims of anti-GMO folks. The NonGMOProject in the US has deemed editing not “kosher” for them, but the government might decide it’s not the same as GMO. So a government label won’t achieve what the haters want. It’s a terrible idea going forward, not just for all the existing bad reasons.

          12. People will always demand more thats human nature not limited to bio tech, the GMA or big agri. Yes the government might say its not gmo, but again they might say it is gmo. Its really not the end of days people cry about.

          13. No, he doesn’t understand. He has been making the same or similar comments for months and simply refuses to learn even when confronted with simple logic and facts. We are not discussing anything with him. We are simply typing for the benefit of lurkers who don’t post. He/she is likely hopeless. Either that or simply ets the jollies out of arguing and causing folks to use time to oppose his oft repeated nonsense.

          14. Yes, but, as usual, you won’t use facts to base them on. So, will be wrong most of the time.

          15. See Mem’s comment above. I am not the only one who can predict your error filled comments. Your history of being wrong is factual.

          16. Well then by your rules you can only use facts to base the personal assumptions on. Thats your “cause I say so” opinion. Nothing more. Please refrain from the personal assumptions, it makes you look immature.

          17. What looks immature is you being so easy to predict and being wrong all the time. Are you really so daft that you don’t understand that opinions should be based on facts?

          18. My stance is and has has been defended. Your personal problems are pretty much what’s left here.

          19. Yeah, I know. Completely resistant to facts. Same merry-go-round at every site. I know I’ve given the same info over and over, but at a new place we have to have the same link-slinging because of his false claims.

          20. They seem like warning labels to people who don’t know anything about the topic. Of course, I suspect that’s largely the point.
            Step 1) Find something that’s not in your product that’s in your competitors’ products.
            Step 2) Get the government to require a label. Not a warning label. Just a label that looks like a warning. But it’s totally not.
            Step 3) Watch your competitors scramble to alter their recipes or figure out how to deal with the marketing fallout of something that looks like a warning label that isn’t on all of the products.
            Step 4) Profit!

          21. So you are admitting that this is a bad law? Because it is, and laws shouldn’t be passed when they have known flaws from the beginning and will penalize people unnecessarily. Food companies risk being fined and sued for selling perfectly safe products.
            A label is a warning label if it is perceived to be one by the consumer. You do think consumers are always right, right?

        2. All the ID you need to make your choices is supplied by nongmo and organic labels.

          1. Not a suggestion. A statement of facts. Irrational “wants” are to be opposed for many of the reasons Mem cites below.

          2. Its looks like a demand to me. No thanks. Its irrational according to you and Mem, in my opinion its rational.

          3. Your opinion is not backed by facts as Mem and many others have pointed out. You are the one making a demand. It is not only based on errors. But will cost me money both in the form of higher prices and higher taxes. Therefore you need to be opposed and repeatedly told you are wrong.

          4. Higher taxes? How so? Identifying gmo ingredients is consumer information. Thats a fact. All the companies labeling so far said prices will not increase.

          5. Will you please, just once think something through. When a law is passed such as the one you are demanding to require a foolish g.e. label. the first thing the gov’t does is hire people to administer and enforce the law. These folks get paychecks, equipment and offices. Hence, taxes will go up. “All the companies” prove it.

          6. Will you please stop telling me what to do? Taxes wont necessarily go up you can budget for it by other means.

          7. Baloney, new laws mean new taxes and by telling you to think something through I am doing what your parents should have years ago. They owe me.

          8. No they dont, new laws happen all the time without direct correlation to taxes rising because of it. Take it easy big E. Dont guess about me.

          9. Not guessing. Just because you don’t realize taxes have gone up doesn;’t mean a thing. The simple fact is that more eployees will require more money;. Ask any business manager.

          10. Nope, state governments move money from one department to another all the time without raising taxes. If you have a legit link saying Vermont is raising taxes due to the law, please advise. And that means you live in Vermont, right?

          11. One doesn’t need to live in Vermont to understand that they will need more employees and therefore money to do this. Moving money from one dept. to another is often resisted by the dept. losing the money.

          12. So it wont raise YOUR taxes, Thanks. Sure budgeting is messy, doesnt mean taxes are always raised.

          13. And she leaps to another incorrect conclusion. More employees require more money.

          14. No, not in Vermont. Not relevant as such diseases as this tend to spread. “budgeting” I know what that is. In this case you are referring to attempts to hide the tax increases.

          15. So no YOUR taxes wont rise because of what they do in Vermont. Youll have to prove the tax increase before we get into the budgeting debate.

          16. I already have. And my personal taxes will eventually rise if the re1 disease spreads.

          17. This comment is just ludicrous, uninformed, and shows a visceral ignorance of how our government works. Congress literally passes hundreds of laws each term. We already have a division of government that makes new laws. They don’t need to be hired. They finish working on one piece of legislation and then attack the next. If taxes went up every time there was a new law they would literally be raised hundreds of times every two year. I know this is old but I couldn’t just leave it alone.

          18. What is ridiculous is not understanding that hiring new people to “administer and enforce” the law will cost money. Go back to school.

    2. Which would be fine if this were a simple choice like choosing what underpants to put on in the morning, but these are more complex business decisions, informed by potentially conflicting legislation (once other states start doing their own labeling laws) and market pressures from vocal activist groups.

        1. There’s enough activists out there shouting loud enough and attempting to organise boycotts

          1. No, loudmouth people lying because of their anti-g.e. agendas. If it was a sizable percentage of consumers their would already be market changes to pursue those customers. It is precisely that they are not a large enough percentage to cause change with out gov’t interference that this labeling nonsense continues.

          2. Where are the pro gmo loudmouth people to influence the companies decisions? A lot of the companies now labeling have cited “consumer demand”.

          3. We are here arguing with you and in the stores buying g.e. containing products on purpose.

          4. Nope, I grow plants for a living and want to see the truth accepted. Therefore people who insinuate I am “paid” thus using the ridiculous shill gambit of those completely bereft of truth. Must be completely defeated to the point that the bulk of the residents of the U.S. equates them with flat earthers.

          5. I don’t give a flip about those organizations. Though if I ever got large enough to require their services. I would use Ketchum just to anger the activist fringe groups. However the real reason is that it is in my long term self interest for lies to be exposed and facts to win out. this is true of you as well. Therefore you actually opposing your own well being.

          6. They are loudmouths for the industry. Yes, I just want them labeled. Your not a shrink so dont pretend to be one. Ok so yes, I could see defending not labeling gmos if my financial interest were at stake. Money talks.

          7. I was referring to long term economic and environmental self interest. Glad to see you are beginning to understand you may need a shrink though. Also, you ned to quit demanding the use of force on others and use the 2 labels you have.

          8. Thanks, your not a doctor so I wont take your suggestion seriously. Nope, inform me of presence and you can go back to watching you plants grow.

        2. A lot of the activists are saying exactly that. And many companies – Del Monte is one example – don’t do any actual market research, they just listen to the loudest noises.

          1. To be more correct, a small subset of consumers. Most simply don’t care or pay much attention.

          2. A small subset threatening a boycott are usually heard more by companies than the large majority who don’t complain. Even your buddy Nassim Taleb is right on that point. The market responds more to those who refuse to use a product because of an ingredient than those who don’t care whether the ingredient is present or not. That is, until or unless those who don’t care realize that the cost will increase as a result of the change.
            http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/minority.pdf
            This is one more reason for me to avoid organic and non-GMO labeled products.

    3. In a sense yes – they claim they are responding to consumer demand, but in fact they end up ignoring what I suspect is a much larger consumer base. And some switches, if not labeled, like the Canola to Peanut oil one can have dire consequences.

        1. This is false, every time you say it. There were consumers prior to the law. But nothing happened until the law.
          And we also know that this law was pushed by organic industry forces, including the anti-science nutcase Jeffrey Smith. That’s not “consumers”.

          1. Consumer demand has nothing to do with it according to you? So the organic industry forced a company to directly switch ingredients or indirectly? Trying to put the blame entirely on the organic industry seems a bit of a stretch.

          2. So what about the opposing viewpoint are they not industry funded? Look at voting on gay marriage…sometimes the best place to establish laws in the legislature/courts. Still lobbying money in there though I digress.

          3. I don’t have any idea what that comment means. Your claim is that suddenly everybody changed ingredients because of consumers, when clearly the trigger is this legislation.

          4. The opposing viewpoint. Groups like the GMA, they are industry funded right? Lets not call the kettle black. I was talking about voting results versus legislation in terms of establishing laws.
            Nope, I think its a mix of both consumer demand and regulation. A company wanting to change ingredients just because they dont feel like identifying the gmo ingredients is solely on them.

          5. Your claim is that this legislation was from consumers. It was not. GMA doesn’t just randomly go into states and try to not do labels. It’s a response to this legislation effort, which we have established is organic-industry based.
            Nobody is trying to prevent organic producers from using anything, nor take away tools from them.

          6. So you know the correspondence of every citizen with their representative in Vermont?
            My question was is the GMA industry funded. It appears there is a PR push to try and discredit organic foods on the internet from what Ive seen I still think there is a large consumer push that for some reason the opposing industry doesnt want to admit. They are trying to get to the coveted demographic the “soccer moms” with campaigns like “farmer moms”, but their PR tactics are falling short.

          7. I send letters to congresscritters and legislators all the time. It doesn’t result in legislation. But we have the evidence of how this happened in Vermont. Pretending it wasn’t driven by the organic industry funded groups is just abject denial.
            Of course, you can immediately then leap to your perception that there’s a conspiracy to discredit organic foods. Funny that you think that’s some kind of company based pushed, but refuse to admit that the PR push to discredit GMOs is made of industry forces. Irony, much?

          8. Well thats up to them, and if they feel what you are saying has a legit shot at making it into law. Just because what you want doesn’t make it into actual legislation doesn’t imply that what others are doing by the same measures is impossible. Like I said, its a mix of consumer demand and corporate lobbying. Welcome to politics in 2016.
            My perception is backed by articles on Forbes and other pro big agri forums and “farmer moms” Pr campaigns. I think its industry pushed on both sides. The industries fight for the consumers. Money talks. I also think consumer demand plays a factor too. PR companies are still adapting to social media in my opinion.

          9. Evidence shows that when the survey questions aren’t designed to be leading questions, that few people even mention GMO as a consumer concern. A very tiny and shouty group propped up by organic industry funding is driving this.

          10. So every other poll shows that consumers want to be informed of presence. They see all the other industrialized countries do the same and ask “why not here/”? Maybe big agri and big chemical and big food need to up their pr campaign if they are losing to a tiny shouty group. Gotta give them some props, no?

          11. We also know they agree that they want DNA labeled. They answer yes to anything like that. It’s kind of embarassing, actually, for people who shout about the “sheeple” to be the actual sheeple who aren’t paying attention.
            The tiny and shouty group is well funded. They are heavy marketers. That’s why they are succeeding, because they get marketing. We tried to use science but that’s not what people are hearing. They hear the fear-based marketers. I find people who use fear to manipulate others to be very loathsome. But I’ll admit that Mad Men are effective. Science is boring.

          12. And some people think the earth is only 6000 years old too. Doesnt mean all of their concerns should be disavowed.
            Come on now, both sides are well funded, heck some even own product lines on both categories. Yes, the failed campaign of “farmer moms” fell flat, so will ‘science moms” and then getting a science professor to try and sell to the soccer moms wont work either. The game is to appear “grass roots”.

          13. We shouldn’t make science-based policy based on the young earth creationists! Exactly. I’m so glad we could come to agreement on this matter.

          14. That doesn’t mean they should be denied consumer information if they want to be informed of presence. And so far big agri is losing. The Ketchum round tables would be a interesting place to be a fly on the wall.

          15. If young earth creationists want a label, they should do it just like Kosher–a third party! Exactly how it should be handled.

          16. There is no correlation between how old they think earth is and wanting to be informed of presence of gmo ingredients, that was my point. Should be mandatory too just like Australia.

          17. Ok, I will fully support Young Earth Creationist mandatory labeling in Australia. How’s that for compromise?

          18. This guy will never admit when he is wrong… under any circumstances, no matter how clear it is. He is unable to do it. You’ll just get topic change after topic change and goal post shift after goal post shift.

          19. Mr Shrink? That wasn’t a mental health diagnosis. Just a description of my experiences. I am allowed to have experiences… right?

          20. It’s hard to admit you’ve been taken in by marketers, and aren’t really interested in science facts. I can understand.

          21. You aren’t their target, perhaps. They are looking to reach people who haven’t closed their minds.

          22. Evidence of eco modernist moms on twitter? You can tell me I am closed minded, that matters not though. If you were an expert on providing psychoanalysis I would gladly lay on your couch. 😉

          23. So you are happy to ally yourself with creationists, flat-earthers, anti-vaxxers, and anti-GM organic companies for food policy rather than science, because of consumer feels. The truth is that a little fear is hard to overcome with even large education efforts. That is one reason why it is so disingenuous for anti-GM activists to go on about how much Big Ag paid to defeat food labeling initiatives in California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado when they know that is what is necessary to overcome their fear campaign. They targeted Vermont because a little money could go a long way in convincing a legislature that was already skewed toward organic woo, especially with the big influence of nearby Stonyfield Organic.
            Science and food companies are also limited to the facts, whereas the labeling proponents have never been called to task for their lies and misrepresentations. In fact, one activist bragged after the Prop 37 defeat in California
            that they had won despite losing the initiative, because he knew their lies got
            more air play than they would have otherwise.

    4. Rel, please don’t insult our intelligence. You want labelling precisely to cause companies to change formulations to avoid gmo label or to influence consumers to not select those brands that retain ge sourced ingredients, which over time would force the companies to change the formulation out of economic necessity. No, no labeling proposed mandate legislates a change in formulation, but you are supporting labeling because you believe it will impose a necessity for changing formulation that will have the same effect of a legislated ban.
      I am actually an advocate for companies voluntarily placing a ge source disclosure. Here’s what I predict will happen. Some food makers will change their formulas where the change is simple, particularly where ge source ingredients are only a minimal portion of the product, like using cane sugar instead of beet sugar. In many cases, these will not be a win for the consumer in terms of safety, price, nutritional content. Some companies will not change their formulations, and we probably won’t see much change in consumer behavior. Campbells will remain a solid and respected brand.
      One of the ironic impacts I think the author overlooked is that label disclosure will devalue both the non-gmo and to a lesser extent, the organic certifications. A portion of the demand for those products is due to the psychological risk perception that non-labeling has generated. Thus, ironically, lack of ge source labeling has driven demand for both those certifications. Mandatory or voluntary labelling will undermine the premium those certifications currently command and in turn erode the price premium that recruits more supply of non-gmo and the retail price premium that stores can charge. Also, once the ge label is ubiquitous, it will become increasingly meaningless.

      1. No I dont. Right, it still provides consumer information 15 years into being in existence in Australia and the UK.

        1. None that is needed or provided by the nongmo and organic labels. Quit making irrational demands that will cost others money.

          1. They inform of presence. That is what customers want. No company has said it will raise prices. Get new loudmouth talking points.

          2. “Campbell also confirmed it would not pass its labeling costs onto the consumer.” Dont get mad and tear up your plants.

          3. Again, think all the way through even one point today. owners and employees are also consumers.

          4. No, you proved zippo. You believed a spokesperson’s incorrect claim. Again, employees and stockholders are consumers. They will pay in the form of lower profits, or lower wages and benefits.

          5. Yes, he is more valid than you. You can disagree with their claims, Thats fine. I dont trust your analysis. Sorry.

          6. Sheesh, Now you want me to prove simple stuff like 10th grade economics. Can you name anybody that isn’t a consumer that the costs could be passed to. You are certainly sorry.

          7. Which would mean that the owners would make less profit. A company is not a sponge.

          8. This is still valid. “Campbell also confirmed it would not pass its labeling costs onto the consumer.”

          9. No, owners and employees are consumers. They are simply passing it on to different consumers. A smaller group, known as stockholders. 401K holders, IRA holders etc. and employees.

          10. Im sorry, when that text is changed. Please advise. Customers in a store can own stock in the company but price of object in store does not reflect cost increase due to “gmo label” So you wrong bo.

          11. I may have a hard time getting the spokeswoman to correct her error. All cost increases effect consumers. The price in the store is not the only measurement of such.

          12. Thats why they said no cost increase for consumers, both companies. When they change their text, then your stance will hold weight.

          13. No, Truth doesn’t require that a spokes person change their wording.Again, employees and owners are consumers. The cost is passed on to them. All costs are passed on to consumers. No exceptions. The only difference is the specific ones. Besides that to not pass the cost on to all consumers equally is evil as the companies are discriminating against their own employees.

          14. Nope, facts are facts even if you choose to ignore them. Besides that. why do you differentiate between groups of consumers. Are you bigoted against employees of these companies? The owners? What did they ever do to you? Your pro-discrimination position is evil.

          15. Facts have citations, and someone more versed on corporate law than you. When it applies to all consumers of said product your rationale will be accepted. When the corporate text changes, please advise. Till then kick those rocks.

          16. Corporate law has nothing to do with this. You are just too stubborn to admit you have no clue. No citations are needed for such. But I would be willing to bet that Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and Milton Friedman all have commented using very similar wording to what I have. Now go to class.

          17. Right and if I cited something from a corporate spokesperson you didn’t want to hear you would be crying shill.

          18. Nope, Where do you think I learned what I know about economics? I know that each and every one of these has said so. Because I have read their writings. Problem is I don’t have the columns or books available. Might be able to find something though.

          19. You just have a hypothetical scenario. You will need direct wording straight from the company for me to accept your analysis.

          20. No, nothing hypothetical, and why this sudden faith in an unknown to you spokesperson? Your mama?

          21. “Right and if I cited something from a corporate spokesperson you didn’t want to hear you would be crying shill.” Thats a guess. Two different companies saying same thing. Yes I am related to both. I trust them more than you. Sorry Eric.

          22. Sheesh, so a corporate spokes person’s word backed by nothing is more valuable than mine backed by fact? You are simply enjoying arguing. The lurkers have seen enough.

          23. Yes. their word is more valuable than yours. Your word does not equal fact. Facts have citations. I dont care, its the internet, you think you are doing anything worthwhile on here?

          24. Yes, arguing for truth and exposing the errors and dishonesty of folks like you is a good thing. Forgive me for not having instant access to old college texts and newspaper columns by economists. This is the first time I have run into anyone dumb enough to not understand that all expenses must be passed on and that employees and owners are also consumers. I am still a bit stunned but will read a few columns this evening just for the fun of it.

          25. When the companies official stance changes, please advise. Dont call me dumb gmo fanboy, go water your plants. This just your hobby remember…..play nice BIg E.

          26. Moderator note – you’re going in circles. If you aren’t satisfied with evidence or opinions provided then you can always walk away.

          27. However, General Mills spent “millions of dollars [to change labels], which we are not passing on to the consumer,” the spokeswoman also told Politico.

          28. Relevance? except to prove that there will be increases. BTW Ms. non-thinker througher. If the costs aren’t passed on to consumers. they will be passed either to employees or owners. Both of those groups are consumers. So, the spokes person is wrong.

          29. No, She, you contradicted your self in your haste to be disagreeable, is not. Her comment violated economic fact. Mine did not.

          30. Nope, I explained with solid facts. Employees and owners of a company are also consumers. Thus consumers will pay. there is no other alternative.

          31. Since when does any company ever say they will raise prices. They don’t SAY it, they just DO it (or reduce product sizes in some cases).

          32. Sometimes they do when asked if a specific measure will increase cost to the consumer or not.

          33. There is some very interesting phenomenon and thank you and Eric for pointing it out. Every time when mandatory labeling was on the ballot, the food companies claimed that it will force them to rise prices. Now each time a company declares its commitment to voluntary labeling, they claim very loudly that it will not affect the retail price of their products. The voluntary labeling thus looks so much better for the costumer. Why are so many consumers against voluntary labeling? Why we do trust some of the claims that companies make and not the others?

          34. Its not 100%, I trust regulations more than the free market “maybe we will maybe we wont” mantra.

          35. Very nice. Somebody living in a country with a very few regulations trusts regulations more than a free market, while I living in a country with excessive regulations give more trusts to market forces. At least in areas where there is a market.

          36. Excatly. That is one reason – driving GMO ingredients out. Also there were some activists groups that organised protests against companies who dared to include GM ingredients on the lists. Another reason were the costs of separate processing of gm/non-gm ingredients. Just everything gets more costly, more complex and more open to liability claims.

          37. There really are not that many gmo crops commercially available. The labeling regulations in the EU have been around since 2001 or so. I havent read any where showing this claim to be true, either in the EU or in Australia. The thresholds are so small you dont have to separate unless you are going for the “non gmo” label. Do you have a good read on the cost increase due to labeling? You would think if it was a burden cost the people would get that overturned after 15 years of implementation. Are you in multinational agriculture or food processing to be concerned with labeling in the US?

          38. No I am in basic plant research, plant pathology to be more specific. I will find you some reference on costs if you are interested. Basically there is no oficial “non gmo” label, although some producers make that claim especially when there is no GM alternative. Its everybodys guess what that means and the producers are very reluctant to give any details what their non-gmo claim actually means. I have asked several times a yoghurt maker what they mean by Non-gmo sticker on their yoghurt. It might imply that the milk is from non-GM fed cows, but the producer has no way how to verify that claim. It might also mean that they didnt use biotech bacterial cultures in the process or biotech enzymes or vitamins. It might also mean that they use it as a cheap advertisement. The low tresholds make live of food processors relatively difficult, because sampling with such precision is costly and some inadvarent contamination possible. What if the truck or train transported GM corn before ononGM wheat? it might show in the test. It will be most likely below threshold in that scenario, but if it is a plant , eg oil processing facility where they make oils from different oilcrops, meeting the 0.9 % threshold is costly. Very costly. It is just cheaper to give up the stigmatised ingredient altogether. As for price for the consumers – they never had a chance to see a cheaper GM product, so they do not see a price hike. Also due to the costs of separation and liability any advantages of cheaper production will be lost due expensive downstream processing. In our country the GM corn went from peak production of about 10. 000 ha to less than 1.000 even though that farmers claimed 40% higher yield (very bad season because of the corn borer). Those who could not use the corn in feed on their own farm simply stopped growing it, because all the hassle and inspections .

          39. I was talking about the non gmo label here. So you are a stake holder in the bio tech industry then. Non gmo here means not using gm ingredients. Right cheese and gm feed with animals is not 100% accurate. Then the wheat would be gm wheat, thats why they make the thresholds around .08. Oils are exempt in places like Australia.
            All the companies so far here in America saying they will label have said they will not pass the cost on to the consumer. Can you please cite some European studies or reports showing the increase in cost due to labeling? Was there no backlash to it?

          40. Yes, I am a stakeholder i the debate since I also ocassionally eat food. And since the GMO labelling has higher impact on lower income families, my stakes are also higher than average.
            Sorry I do not understand this part… Right cheese and gm feed with animals is not 100% accurate. Then the wheat would be gm wheat, thats why they make the thresholds around .08… And yes companies always say that the steps taken based on their own decission are good for the consumer and that it will not impact the price or quality, while they whine that the steps forced on them by gov. will inevitably lead to higher price or lower quality. In these cases it is better to wait and see if their claims are thrutful. they also like to wait few months and increase the price because some “unrelated reason”. A nice comparison of real effects of mandatory vs voluntary GM labelling laws is a case study done in Canada and France in 2005 by Gruere : A preliminary comparison of the retail level effects of genetically modified food labelling policies in Canada and France here http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306919205000746. in cas it is pawalled i have a copy here https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B0i-7BgAEplYWVFULS1zUzNtR0k&usp=sharing

          41. Cool, Ill take a look later. Its its the “end of days” to put “gm corn” on a label, why has it been in place for so long in so many countries?

          42. “if its the “end of days” to put “gm corn” on a label, why has it been in place for so long in so many countries?” but it is exactly the point of labelling in so many countries. Eu labelling for example severely limits imports of most food items from countries like US and Canada. And our own gm food (enzymes, vitamins, meat products) are cleverly exempt from labelling. We will not voluntarily change stupid regulation, that has been beneficial for the bussiness of our own multinationals. I guess that the guys at Novozymes must have a lot of fun observing the US attempts to copy European regulation in US situation. Ever heard of cargo-cult?

          43. What about Japan and Australia? Whats your opinion on why they label gmo ingredients? Why do you care if the US puts “gm corn” on a label?

          44. Australia is a nice example – their label only food items that still contain recombinant DNA or protein. So highly purified and processed foods containing oil, starch or sugar derived from GM crops are exempt. Australia only grows GM-canola, which is processed into oil, that is exempt from labeling. So similarly to EU they label just things they do not grow themselves. Japan does not grow any substantial acreage of any GM crop so I guess their policy is similar to EU.

          45. Yes, most non labeling supporters like the Australian laws. Again why do you care if the US puts a label on their packaging? Are you afraid of a loss in profits or job security?

          46. I do not think that the situation in US would impact my job security. Actually even situation on food market in EU will not affect my job. I am basically a governement employee with “permanent” contract. But as I said i have a stake in the gmo dabate since I eat food and I have to support family of 4 from one low wage. Also since I was a school kid I was quite active in various nature protecting organisation and I really care about the state of this planet​. And I see that considerable part of the public has very vague impressions about farming and how our food is made. It then makes them vulnerable to charlatans with agenda and in the best scenario it results in solving pseudo problems (GMOs) instead of real problems (soil degratation, desertification, water scarcity, deforestation food security etc.). Last but not least I am genuinely interested in reasons that lead people to have different opinion on things than what I have. So what is the motivation for you to participate in these discussions?

          47. I dont see gmos as a problem I just want to see them identified in my food stuffs. PR companies pay people to go online and spread corporate talking points, a lot of which are false and misleading so I counter those propaganda statements. But mostly to waste time at work.

          48. well it is about 15 pages, but most of the points I have made previously. Basically mandatory label=costly for everybody+no gm foods on the market, voluntary label= those who care pay a premium for identity preserved or organic, everybody else benefits from cheaper food, less pesticides etc

          49. Actually it does not seem to be the case. Consumers are not sensitive to high prices in general, they are sensitive to sudden increase in price. Since we have never grown GM crops in large scale and they were never part of the supply chain, there was no lower price to compare with, nor price increase related to their expensive removal and seeking substitutes. Prices just remained the same. We have about 2-3 times more expensive gasoline here then what you are used to in US because of high taxes (currently about 5 USD/ gallon but last summer it was in the 8 USD/gallon range. People are not complaining that it is expensive, but they are very sensitive when the price goes up a few cents a liter.

          50. If the bio tech pr claims are correct about yearly increases in food costs, then they would know here. Which as shown so far are just that PR talking points designed to flip public opinion.

          51. Who said anything about yearly increases in food costs? It would be an ongoing higher price, based on using costlier ingredients to avoid GM, but after the initial price rise/increased cost due to the changeover, increases would just follow the normal price of ingredients. It’s pretty ironic to see you taking the side of Big Food when it suits your ideology.

      2. I think you’re right. I’ve wondered if that some of the resistance to mandatory labelling is due to the potential devaluing of high margin GMO free offerings that these same companies profit from.

      3. It doesn’t matter who else wants to eat or not eat GMO’s…it only matters what the individual wants…let each person decide…if GMO companies want to keep their recipes for the people who don’t mind them, perfect…if they do want to change, perfect again…it doesn’t matter…

    5. Right…if they’re not worried about GMO’s and think it’s fine to use them, then they should just continue using them and label it as such…no need to change ingredients…then their cost wouldn’t be more than when they able their food as ‘new and improved’, etc, as they so often do…

  2. Personally I find #3 pretty interesting. One example given – Olive oil – generally has a much shorter shelf life before it goes rancid. I wonder what other ingredient swaps have done (beside making some of them yucky)?

    1. Right. There are a number of recipe changes that could have impacts on shelf life, texture, flavor, etc.

  3. I think all out of state food companies should just pull out of Vermont and let the state see what it’s like to live on only local foods. Would be an interesting experiment. 🙂

    1. Yep, that would be interesting. Another fun thing to watch will be all the stores that will expand/open along the borders. Those businesses will then likely oppose repeal or loss of the law due to a supreme court ruling. The problem with your idea is that less than wealthy folks in vermont will be harmed.

      1. You are right of course, the poor are the ones that will be harmed with such an experiment. It’s always the poor that get screwed when we give in to religious extremism (e.g. anti-GMO movement).

  4. The usual Monsanto spin. Gotta protect those falling profits and try and distract from the fact that more and more people don’t want chemicals—especially probable cancer sources—in their food. PR puff pieces like this will do little to nothing to sway the force majeur that is facing the company now.

    1. Every item links to the sources, every piece is a fact. I’m sure you can’t recognize them, but that is the case. Sorry to disappoint you with reality.

      1. And this is exactly the problem
        Idealogically-driven drones don’t care one whit for facts. I think you’re well aware of this, though. “House for Responsible Technology”, indeed.

        1. Everyone thought it was hilarious when one of the creationist “institutes” was a guy’s house. I don’t understand why the reporters can’t figure this out about Jeffy.

          1. I don’t understand it either.
            As I’m sure you’re aware, Maharishi U is “patient zero” of the anti-GMO movement. The ideological infection has spread from Fairfield, IA across the world. And Dear Jeffy is just one node.

    2. Sorry, but since you obviously know nothing about farming let me clue you in. Non gmos have chemicals used on them as well, and in most cases more dangerous and larger amounts.

    3. you do know that genetic engineering is used by many companies large and small in additions to nonprofit NGOs, government institutions like the USDA ARS and by universities.
      Genetic engineering is al not about “chemicals” in food, there are plenty of nonGE herbicide tolerant tolerant varieties.

      1. Moderator note – this sort of comment is not helpful. I appreciate that you’re applying the insults to the accusation and not the person but it’s too close to a personal insult. Let’s keep things civil, please.

      2. P.S. Anastasia is correct, and I apologize for responding in a superficial manner myself. My goal is not to be disrespectful, but rather to challenge your assumptions.

    4. Seems like the only argument the anti-GMO activists ever have is Monsanto, fake cancer claims, and the like. Never ever post any actual sources for such claims.

        1. Why did it take 12 years for DuPont to change the name from, “Pioneer” to “DuPont Pioneer”?
          Asgrow and Dekalb aren’t called, “Monsanto Asgrow” or “Monsanto Dekalb” are they?

    1. That’s about as plausible as some corporate goon purposefully contaminating the food of a restaurant chain shortly after they switch to non-GMO food.

      1. Are you a lawyer?
        This is exactly what happened after Prop65 in California. More “we told you so”.

  5. 1. Yes. It costs money to do business. What you do is try and make more than you spend.
    Reviewing supply chain, checking recipes, checking on sourcing; sounds like things a food company should do regardless of labels.
    2. No. It’s not really that complicated.
    Stupid is a better word. But that’s on the people who regulate such things and the lobbyists they make out with. It’s been stupid for a long time.
    3. Yes. They have, they do and they will. All the time for all kinds of reasons.
    4. No. Swapping out for more expensive ingredients would likely raise prices. Things in demand usually fetch higher prices. That’s what we get when we treat food like its just a widget. Market volatility.
    5. Yes. Changing things changes things.
    Heath bar crunch has a flavor? 😝
    6. Maybe. And if they do, other businesses will benefit as they fill the need (if it really exists).

    1. “Stupid is a better word. But that’s on the people who regulate such things and the lobbyists they make out with.”
      And this somehow escapes moderator scrutiny? Why?

    2. I have heard that one company was going to use their funds to do a health-related project, but instead is spending the money on labels.
      And if it’s not that complicated, you should volunteer for the state of Vermont to answer questions. They can’t seem to.
      I don’t eat any Ben & Jerry’s, but I hear it’s popular with well-fed libruls, and they didn’t like the change.

      1. Just another nonsense reply.
        You heard on company was going to do something with some money and then they changed their mind.
        That’s about as useless of information as the rest of your list.
        I didn’t take you for one of those types who complain about “libruls” as if this meant anything at all or helped in any situation at all or made things better in any way at all.

  6. Now Vermont is a state in search of a substantial state interest. They are now trying to get Seed and biotech companies to release their internal research to them. Sounds like they don’t think they can pass constitutional muster on that point as things stand now.

    1. Why haven’t they released their research?
      If they claim it’s safe based on the research, then let’s see it.

      1. Because some of it contains proprietary information which companies and individuals are allowed to keep secret in lieu of patents and, just because you imagine a risk, that doesn’t give you the right to have disclosed all that you ask for.
        Besides, there are plenty of external and public domain studies from which to draw conclusions about risks in both environmental and health arenas from GM tech. Hence, the companies need not disclose further research, at the risk of giving up their proprietary information, for the court to make an informed decision or given the sheer weight of public domain and external studies already available for review, those further disclosures would not affect whatever decision the court would arrive at anyway.

        1. All that sounds like BS.
          What kind of proprietary information is in that safety research?
          Doesn’t the judicial system get to access sensitive information all the time?
          From now on I think we need to make these scientists get consent from the public before they can do any research they claim will benefit the public.
          If it’s just benefit themselves then it should be kept cleanly separate from the rest of the food chain and clearly labeled.

          1. It’s the BS that if the government must override a right, it must do so in a manner that causes the least amount of restriction of that right to get the particular matter done. If the existing public domain and external research already serves the court’s purpose to reach a decision then to trample on companies’ or individual rights to trade secrets is unnecessary. With over 1800 studies done on the matter, it seems quite unlikely that internal studies, if any, will add enough weight one way or the other to warrant forced disclosure.

        1. “Varying state laws”. It’s exactly this kind of nonsense that the Commerce Clause in the constitution was written for.

        2. Kinda looks like they’re trying pretty hard to avoid another IDFA v. Amestoy. Not really surprising, given that organic food industry interests are funding that big DC law firm to help the poor, embattled VT attorney general.
          All because they fell for IRT nonsense.
          Sounds like they’re trying for motions to compel discovery. Not necessarily a desperate move, but it doesn’t show strength on the VT side.

  7. Congratulations for your article Mary but it seems that you forgot a seventh consequence of labeling of GMOs and this is probably the most important!
    It is unlikely, I hope, that those people involved in the food do not know what is a GMO, but they deliberately surf on the ignorance of the consumers, making them stupid and to make them swallow anything !
    As, of course, you know, the only thing that is genetically modified is the DNA itself.
    None ingredients from a given GMO is genetically modified!
    Writing « GMO ingredient » or similar formulation are heresy!
    It is impossible to get genetically modified ingredient : even the new protein produced by the new gene into the genetically modified plant is not genetically modified.
    Sugar remains sugar, oil remains oil (and so on) and in no way ingredients can be genetically modified.
    In Europe, anti GMO associations (may be more stupids than yours !) want that products from animals (meat, milk, eggs …) that have eaten GMO products have also to be labeled “GMO”.
    What an immense stupidity testifying, one more time, a total ignorance of what a GMO is and flouting the basic laws of biology.
    These people are so stupid that they must believe that the electricity they use at home is radioactive when it comes from a nuclear power plant.
    I’m sorry to see that, as in Europe, you also have those stupid!
    as Einstein said, « two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, although for the universe, I have not yet become certain ».

  8. The big food companies should be concerned about the small retailers because their retail outlets will dry up; so its no good to say that they can absorb the costs of GMO labeling if they can’t distribute their products.

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